Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky my entire life, the most important day of the calendar is in just two short days: THE KENTUCKY DERBY!
I’m not exaggerating when I say Louisville natives plan their entire year around the Derby, but what most out-of-towners don’t realize is that this event is so much more than a two-minute horse race. It is two weeks long of events, including a parade, an Ohio River Boat Race (ah…the days when we used to get out of school early just to attend this event…), Thunder Over Louisville (the biggest fireworks show in North America, thank you very much), and possibly the most overlooked event of all: Oaks!
Oaks is the day before Derby and in my opinion it is just as big, and possibly a little bit more fun, than the actual Derby! There is still a major race – The Oaks Race – consisting of female horses, and in recent years Oaks has been a day that all the women still sport their Southern Derby fashion but with a trend towards wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.
I am always shocked when people have heard of the Derby and look at me cross-eyed when I mention Oaks because in my eyes they go hand-in-hand! Nevertheless, this event has been a part of my life since I was born and it is full of some of the most fun traditions I have ever taken part in! Here are just a few of my favorite Derby pastimes:
Most of these are self-explanatory, but I have to comment on how horribly upset I got while writing this post at the realization that I won’t be able to devour at least 30 of those delicious tenderloin sandwich rolls this year…I immediately texted my mom asking her to send them to me somehow because this may be my favorite part of all!
And of course, anyone who grew up in Louisville spent 3/4 of their life drinking out of hordes of these Derby cups that our parents collect from each of their mint juleps over the years. (If not these, it was the plastic Cherokee Triangle cups – Louisville kids you know what I’m talking about!)
I have to stop writing now or my FOMO will reach an all-time high about missing the single best weekend of the entire year, but I can definitely guarantee I will still be screaming at the TV, drinking my homemade mint juleps and eating the closest substitute I can find to those sandwiches while I scream at the TV dressed in my Lilly Pulitzer finest!
Happy Derby, Y’all!